NASA Spotlight: Astronaut Jonny Kim
Dr. Jonny Kim was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training is now eligible for mission assignments to the International Space Station, the Moon and eventually Mars. A U.S. Navy SEAL, Kim completed more than 100 combat operations. Kim was commissioned as a naval officer through an enlisted-to-officer program and earned his degree in mathematics at the University of San Diego and a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California to Korean-American immigrants, he enjoys spending time with his family, outdoor activities, academic and professional mentoring, strength training and lifelong learning.
Dr. Kim took some time from his job as a NASA astronaut to answer questions about his life and career! Enjoy: Why did you apply to be an astronaut?
For many reasons. I think that humans are natural explorers. There is a calling in all of us to explore the unknown, push the boundaries and redefine what is possible. I’m drawn to the physical and mental challenges of space exploration and the teamwork required to complete such an objective. And finally, the opportunity to do something good for our country, for humanity, and to inspire the next generation of thinkers, leaders, explorers and scientists.What was your favorite memory from astronaut training?
I’m a big believer that people can grow stronger bonds with each other when they succeed through shared hardship. And I think that developing relationships with one another is one of the best ways to forge successful team skills to be successful in any endeavor. With that context, I can tell you that my favorite memory from astronaut training was traversing the deep canyon slots of the Utah Canyon Lands for almost 2 weeks with my classmates. We hiked trails, climbed canyons, swam through deep, dark, cold and murky waters and forged through uncertainty, all while being together. This shared hardship was not only fun, but it helped us grow closer to one another. It’s one of the fondest memories I have when I think about my amazing classmates, and through that shared hardship, I know I can count on any one of my fellow astronauts when the going gets tough.If you could play any song during launch, what would it be?
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey.What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell myself to always follow your passion, never stature or money, because following a life of passion is long-term, sustainable and usually helps others. Be accountable for your mistakes and failures, and maintain the humility to learn from those mistakes and failures. And finally, I would caution myself that all worthwhile goals are difficult to obtain, but with the right attitude and hard work, you can accomplish anything.How did your time as a Navy Seal impact your astronaut training?
Being a Naval Special Warfare Operator taught me that humans are capable of accomplishing ten times what their bodies and mind tell them. I learned there are no limits in life, and the biggest setback one can have is a poor attitude. I learned the value of strong leadership and accountability. I also learned the meaning of sacrifice, hardship, teamwork, love and compassion. All these traits helped me to develop the hard and soft skills required to be an astronaut.How do we prepare medically for long duration missions? What tools, resources, medications do we anticipate needing, and how do we figure that out?
This is a great question and the answer is evolving. The way we answer this question is by being thoughtful and consulting the medical communities to weigh the pros and cons of every single decision we make regarding this. Mass plays an important factor, so we have to be mindful of everything we bring and how we train for it.Who was the first person you called after being selected to be an astronaut?
It would have been my wife but she was with me when I heard the news. The first person I called was my mom.What is one item from home that you would bring to space?
A picture of my wife and kids.What does it mean to you to be part of the Artemis generation of astronauts?
It means that I have a duty and obligation to serve humanity’s best interests. To explore the unknown, push boundaries and redefine what’s possible. It means I have an immense opportunity to serve as an example and inspiration to our next generation of leaders and explorers. It also means there is a hard road ahead, and when the mission calls for us, we will be ready.What are three personal items, besides photos of family and friends, that you would bring with you on your first spaceflight?
An automatic watch, because the engineering behind a timepiece is a beautiful thing. An American flag, because I proudly believe and uphold the principles and ideals our country stands for. And finally, a nice journal that I can put handwritten thoughts on.
Thank you for your time, and good luck on your first spaceflight assignment!
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